World

U.S. COVID-19 deaths reach 20,200, surpassing Italy as highest in the world

The United States death toll from the coronavirus pandemic eclipsed Italy's for the highest in the world Saturday at 20,229, Johns Hopkins University reported.

Italy has 19,468 reported deaths, while Spain is 3rd with 16,353 dead

Healthcare workers wheel the bodies of deceased people from the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in New York City during the coronavirus pandemic. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

The United States death toll from the coronavirus pandemic eclipsed Italy's for the highest in the world Saturday at 20,229, Johns Hopkins University reported.

Italy has the second most reported deaths at 19,468 and Spain is third with 16,353. The death rate — that is, the number of dead relative to the population — is still far higher in Italy than in U.S., which has more than five times as many people.

The U.S. has seen its highest death tolls to date in the epidemic with roughly 2,000 deaths a day reported for the last four days in a row. 

About half the deaths in the U.S. are in the New York metropolitan area, where hospitalizations are nevertheless slowing down and other indicators suggest physical distancing is "flattening the curve" of infections and staving off the doomsday scenarios of just a week or two ago.

New York state on Saturday reported 783 more deaths, for a total over 8,600. Andrew Cuomo, the state's governor, said the daily number of deaths is stabilizing "but stabilizing at a horrific rate."

Public health experts have warned that the U.S. death toll could spike to 200,000 over the summer if unprecedented stay-at-home orders that have closed businesses and kept most Americans indoors are lifted after 30 days.

The stay-at-home orders imposed in recent weeks across 42 of the 50 states have taken a huge toll on American commerce, with some economists forecasting job losses of up to 20 million by month's end, raising questions about how long business closures and travel restrictions can be sustained.

Globally, there have been more than 1.6 million confirmed cases, with the death toll surpassing 106,000.

With files from Reuters

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